Foods and Other Items That Can Trigger a BrAC Reading

November 12, 2020

Our ignition interlock devices have been designed to deliver fast and accurate readings that get you safely back on the road as effortlessly as possible. Like most interlock devices, they work by internally reading your breath alcohol content (BrAC) to determine whether it is above or below your state’s legal driving limit.

In some cases, this sensitive technology can be affected by items that contain trace amounts of alcohol—including certain foods, drinks, and medications.

To avoid unexpected BrAC readings, we recommend keeping track of which items may impact your BrAC reading.

Thankfully, because the trace amount of alcohol in these items remains in your mouth, and not your bloodstream, clearing out the trace amounts of alcohol is relatively straightforward: simply rinse out your mouth with water, wait fifteen minutes before using your interlock device, and you should be good to go.

To stay on top of which foods, drinks, and medications may affect your interlock device, here are some of the most common items that can cause a BrAC reading:

Foods

We know how hard it can be to keep tabs on what you eat—especially around the holidays! Even so, it can be helpful to know which foods contain trace amounts of alcohol and therefore may affect your BrAC reading.

For example, most of us are aware that rum cake contains trace amounts of alcohol, but you may be surprised to learn that your morning cinnamon roll has residual amounts of alcohol in it too.

Yeast, a rising agent used in many breads and pastries (think bagels, pretzels, English muffins and croissants etc.) creates a residual amount of alcohol during the baking process. Though this small amount of alcohol isn’t enough to impair your motor functions, it may trigger a BrAC reading. Glazed pastries, like honey buns, are even more likely to trigger a BrAC reading.

Vanilla extract, another popular ingredient used in baking, also contains alcohol and when used heavily may affect a BrAC reading.

Finally, though it’s very rare, some fermented foods like kimchi can also trigger a BrAC reading when consumed in large quantities.

Here is a list of foods that may impact your reading:

  • Cakes or baked goods with alcohol as a core ingredient, like rum cake
  • Baked goods with a high amount of vanilla extract
  • Pasta with vodka sauce
  • Bread, pizza, and pastries that contain yeast
  • Glazed baked goods (think donuts, cinnamon buns, or honey buns)
  • Red wine vinegar
  • Soy sauce
  • Sugarless gums
  • Hot sauce
  • Protein bars
  • Ripe fruit
  • Fermented foods
  • Macadamia nuts

Drinks

It’s clear that alcoholic drinks should be avoided before driving and will trigger a BrAC reading, but there are other drinks that can contain trace amounts of alcohol or other ingredients that may trigger a BrAC reading, including:

  • Energy drinks
  • Protein shakes/drinks
  • Fermented sodas (like kombucha or kefir)
  • “Non-alcoholic” beer or wine

Medications

Both prescription and over the counter (OTC) medications have been found to trigger BrAC readings, especially if they are ingested or inhaled through the mouth. Many of these medicines can also contain small amounts of alcohol, which can affect the BrAC reading. Some of the most common medications that can trigger a BrAC reading are:

  • Liquid cold or flu medicine
  • Cough drops
  • Allergy pills
  • Breath fresheners
  • Asthma inhalers
  • Aftershaves or other scented products used near the mouth
  • Mouthwash
  • Dental pain topical medications

If you’re unsure about whether or not a medication you use could trigger a BrAC reading, contact your doctor or pharmacist for more information.

Cigarettes

Yes, smoking cigarettes can also trigger a BrAC reading. Though interlock devices are generally designed to detect ethanol, they can also detect ethanal—a chemical compound that’s produced during the body’s metabolism of alcohol, which is also found in high concentrations in the lungs of smokers.

If you’re a smoker, we’d recommend waiting at least fifteen minutes after your last cigarette before using the ignition interlock device. To be even more cautious, rinse out your mouth with water after your last cigarette too.

Weight Loss and Low Carb Diets

Surprisingly, weight loss can trigger an unexpected BrAC reading. Specifically, when your body produces high levels of acetones, some of the acetones can reside in your breath and trigger a BrAC reading.

One of the scenarios in which your body will produce excess acetone is by losing a significant amount of weight. Another scenario is eating a low-carb diet and/or intermittent fasting. When on a low carb diet, your body’s glucose levels will decrease, which can lead to low blood sugar and the production of acetone. A similar process can happen when you go without food for long periods of time.

Rule of Thumb

If you use any of the above medications or products, it’s important to rinse out your mouth with water and wait at least fifteen minutes before using your interlock ignition device. Keep in mind that the trace amount of alcohol in these items may only be in your mouth—not your bloodstream, as is the case with alcoholic drinks.  What’s more, avoiding extreme lifestyle changes while using an interlock device—like intermittent fasting or strict dieting—can help you avoid unexpected BrAC readings.

Though these triggered BrAC readings are rare, it’s a good idea to be mindful of what you eat, which medications you take, and your lifestyle choices when using an ignition interlock device.

 

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